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On the Eve of International Archaeology Day 2023: Interviews with Bonnie Gibson and Amy Gillaspie

As we approach the eve of International Archaeology Day (IAD), we arrive at the grand finale of our interview blog series. Over the past weeks, we've explored the stories and insights of remarkable individuals who have dedicated their lives to unraveling the mysteries of our past, preserving history, and sharing their passion with the world.

View from Geologic Point at Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre.

In this concluding installment, we're honored to introduce you to Bonnie Gibson, representing Statistical Research Inc. (SRI), and Amy Gillaspie, a committee member for International Archaeology Day 2023 and a dedicated contributor from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Together, they offer a glimpse into the exciting activities, exhibitors, and behind-the-scenes planning that will make IAD 2023 a truly extraordinary experience.


With just one sleep away from the main event, it's time to revel in the anticipation and join us in this final chapter of our blog series! Bonnie and Amy will unveil the secrets of their preparations, the valuable partnerships, and the profound impact International Archaeology Day has on our community. As we stand on the cusp of celebration, let's dive into their insights and expertise, embracing the spirit of discovery and preservation.


Let's learn a little bit more about our first interviewee, Bonnie Gibson!


Bonnie Gibson, courtesy of Historic Larimer County.

Bonnie Gibson with two decades of experience in cultural resource management, has dedicated her career to the preservation of our heritage. As the Mountain West Regional Director for Statistical Research, Inc., she brings a unique blend of archaeological expertise, business skills, and a passion for public outreach to her work. Her journey began at Liberty Farm in Virginia, where she grew up on a historic site, sparking a lifelong love for archaeology. Bonnie actively contributes to the field, serving in roles from treasurer to board member, and she currently chairs the Conference Committee for the American Cultural Resource Association. Her commitment to preservation and education is a driving force, ensuring that our history remains a vibrant part of our future.


Can you tell us more about the specific activities and exhibits you'll be hosting at International Archaeology Day 2023, and what makes them particularly exciting for attendees?

"SRI is so excited to be exhibiting at our first International Archaeology Day (IAD)! We are a full-service cultural resource management company that offers archaeology and history services. We also have an incredible Geophysics Program, led by Dr. Jennie Sturm. SRI’s Geophysics Program specializes in the use of non-invasive methods to help locate and map features—everything from large house foundations to unmarked burials in cemeteries. Using geophysics for cultural resource management and forensics is a specialty, and our team has decades of experience doing it. In fact, Maeve Herrick, geophysics Project Director, will be on hand to discuss geophysics projects and methods, and will have some of SRI’s geophysics equipment present to show how it all works. Geophysics, and especially ground-penetrating radar (GPR) are all over television, movies, and pop culture these days. Talking with Maeve, a true practitioner of the science, should be a great experience and maybe even answer some fact or fiction questions about these techniques."

The event will feature over thirty exhibitors from Colorado and around the world. Can you highlight a few exhibitors or exhibits that attendees should definitely check out, and what makes them stand out in the context of archaeology?

"I am excited to see so many art exhibitors. Sarah Rothwell, a Project Director at SRI, will be making pottery at the event. That is a definite must see and a great chance to get your hands dirty! Marilyn Martorano will be there with the original “rock music”. She uses stones of varying sizes to create music! It is great to see several university programs as exhibitors. There are actually jobs in these fields and these programs can help launch careers that can add to our community! There are so many exhibitors with a variety of expertise, interests, and points of view. I encourage attendees to visit as many exhibitors as possible, as they all have diverse and interesting things to contribute to the greater understanding and appreciation of art, archaeology, and history. The varying perspectives and methods are what gives such depth to our industry and our community."

Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre

The event seems to blend history, archaeology, and community engagement seamlessly. How do you see events like IAD contributing to a deeper understanding and appreciation of Colorado's vibrant history and archaeology within the local community?

"History, archaeology, and community are human experiences. It is hard to learn and appreciate that when only offered in a classroom setting. Events like IAD give people a chance to experience these things on a personal level. Seeing pottery or projectile points in books is very different than holding them in your hand and connecting you to the people who made them hundreds or thousands of years ago. IAD provides an opportunity for the public to learn more about the history of their region in ways that are accessible, and anything but boring. And almost everyone is interested in learning more about archaeology because their existing knowledge is grounded primarily in popular culture’s exaggerated or glamorous portrayals of archaeological finds and archaeologists’ lives. IAD highlights real archaeology close to home and allows the public to interact with local archaeologists in meaningful ways. We are always happy to talk about where we’ve been, what we’ve seen, and what we have learned!"


As we conclude our conversation with Bonnie Gibson and her insights into the excitement surrounding International Archaeology Day (IAD), we now turn our attention to Amy Gillaspie, a dedicated committee member for IAD 2023. While Bonnie shared her perspective on what makes this year's event unique, Amy offers a fresh outlook as a first-year member of the planning committee. Amy's focus is on how this year's IAD is poised to be more inclusive, with the support of generous sponsors and a commitment to expanding its reach. Join us as we explore Amy's vision for IAD and her thoughts on the significance of events like this in fostering a deeper understanding of Colorado's history and archaeology within the local community.


Amy Gillaspie, courtesy of Denver Museum Nature and Science.

Amy Gillaspie is an archaeologist with a diverse background spanning Colorado, North Dakota, Belize, and France. Her master's thesis research delved into the analysis of Classic Maya figurines and musical instruments used as ritual offerings in Belize's terminal deposits, igniting her interest in understanding human behavior during times of social change and upheaval. Amy's recent work includes excavations with the Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency in northern France, dedicated to recovering lost US soldiers from World War II. Additionally, she's played an active role in leading excavations at various historic Denver sites, most notably the Wotton Site on the Auraria Campus and the historic Astor House in Golden, Colorado. At the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Amy focuses on the Jones-Miller collection, originally excavated by the Smithsonian in the 1970s. Her archaeological journey is marked by a commitment to unraveling the past and preserving its stories.


As a committee member for International Archaeology Day 2023, can you provide some insights into the behind-the-scenes planning process and the key elements that make this event unique compared to previous years?

"This is my first year on the planning committee, so I don’t have direct examples to compare this year to previous years. I can say that I have been approached about working on IAD in the past, and this year feels more intentionally organized in order to bring Archaeology to more of the public! Unique to IAD this year as well includes the inclusion of ASL interpreters and an understanding that Archaeology should work toward being more inclusive and diverse in its audience and as a discipline as well."


This year's IAD is supported by generous sponsors and community fundraising efforts. Could you share how these partnerships and contributions have influenced the event's scale and the addition of new features for attendees?

"It has been wonderful to see IAD grow into the event it promises to be in 2023! It is exciting that the event can now be held at a venue closer to Metro Denver. I also believe the additional support and funding this year, leading to the inclusion of food trucks, a beer garden, and speakers tent will attract more visitors to the event, so I believe all of the partnerships and their contributions will help this event to grow and bring it to the attention of many people who might not have heard about it in the past, or who had heard of it but assumed it was a more closed event. This year promises to be more approachable!"

Amy Gillaspie on archaeological survey at Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre, Fall 2022.

With over thirty exhibitors from diverse organizations participating, what challenges and exciting opportunities have you encountered in curating this wide range of archaeological exhibits, and how do they align with the event's goals?

"I myself have not worked closely with the curation of these exhibitors. What I can say is that the diversity of organizations will bring a more modern, realistic picture of what Archaeology is to the public and guests who join us on IAD. In the past, IAD has felt to me like a more academic and educational endeavor, which is important, but this year will show the reality that there are many facets to Archaeology as a career and as a Science. There are many ways that archaeologists interact with one another, including interdisciplinary work. We will be able to show this with more diverse exhibitors to share their own world of Archaeology."


The event seems to blend history, archaeology, and community engagement seamlessly. How do you see events like IAD contributing to a deeper understanding and appreciation of Colorado's vibrant history and archaeology within the local community?

"I believe the future of Archaeology includes a shift in the discipline that makes it much more approachable for many more people and communities. My hope is that through IAD 2023, guests of the event will walk away saying or thinking, “Oh, I never knew that about Archaeology or the history of Colorado.” I hope that they see a tight-knit community and that we as exhibitors welcome the public in and help demystify or open up some of the facets of Archaeology that have historically been obscured, both unintentionally and intentionally."

 

In this journey through the captivating world of archaeology, we've had the privilege of delving into the minds and experiences of remarkable individuals dedicated to preserving our heritage. From Bonnie Gibson's passion for archaeological preservation and community engagement to Amy Gillaspie's fresh perspective on International Archaeology Day (IAD), we've uncovered the stories that shape our understanding of the past and inspire us to embrace the future. As we celebrate the enduring value of history and archaeology, we are reminded that our shared human experiences are enriched when we come together to explore the wonders of our past. We extend our gratitude to all our interviewees and the IAD committee for making this journey possible!

Jasmine (left) and Jess (right).

We are looking forward to welcoming you tomorrow, Saturday, October 21, 2023, for International Archaeology Day at Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre in the Lower South Lot 2 from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm. If you need a quick reminder of the event's details, don't forget to check them out here!


Join us in 2 weeks for a recap of International Archaeology Day 2023! Get ready for a vibrant collection of pictures and the most exciting highlights from the grand celebration! Don't miss out—subscribe now to stay updated!


See you soon!


Jasmine & Jess (J&J) 🌳


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